• just_a_girl by Kirsten Krauth

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    "… straddles YA and adult literary fiction in the same way as Tim Winton's Breath … Layla's is a unique voice. A beautifully told story.” — Cameron Raynes

  • Kirsten Krauth

    Novelist. Blogger. Editor. My first novel just_a_girl just published. I blog on all things literary and filmy at Wild Colonial Girl

    "just_a_girl is a complex and timely novel, the first book by a strong writer who is not afraid to go to honest, dark places." 
    — Angela Meyer, LiteraryMinded blog

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For good, not profit: Kirsten Alexander, editor, Open Field magazine

Issue 3 of Open Field is out now

I first came across Open Field magazine when I was browsing through literary apps on iTunes, looking for inspiration. A philanthropic exercise, the magazine is digital-only, sources articles and art from world-renowned authors and artists, and all funds from downloads go to charity. I spoke to editor Kirsten Alexander about starting a digital magazine. What gave you the inspiration to put together Open Field magazine? This is a shameful story, but the truth isn’t always flattering. In September 2010, The New Yorker released a tablet version of their magazine using Adobe software. That was a big deal. Wired magazine had released their tablet version in May 2010, but it was a tricked-up and complex object, one that required an interest not only in the content but…

Shyness is nice: the beauty of inarticulation

Shy is the first book by Sian Prior

At the recent Sydney Writers’ Festival, David Marr did a wonderfully incisive interview with Christos Tsiolkas, author of Dead Europe, The Slap and, most recently, Barracuda. Throughout the session, in response to Marr’s questions, Tsiolkas took many minutes to speak, occasionally with his head in his hands as if trying to squeeze out the answers. The loud silence filled the room. But when he finally was able to seize the words, his ideas were rich in detail, nuanced, worth waiting for. Marr quipped that ‘he writes loudly and speaks quietly’. As I waited patiently for Tsiolkas to frame himself, I realised how rare this was: the chance to see a writer composing, having the courage to be uncertain, to not reach for the quick answer,…

Dawn Barker: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours

In the past couple of months, I’ve started a new series — where I review someone’s book, and they review mine — and we put them up at the same time. My idea was for it to be a kind of ‘two of us’ of books/authors, where we find the connections between our work — and our lives. The first wonderful exchange was with Walter Mason (I reviewed  Destination Cambodia: Adventures in the kingdom and he took a squiz at just_a_girl). This time, I take on Dawn Barker’s popular debut novel, Fractured. Just from the outset, this review is going to have *Spoilers*. There is so much exciting plot happening in Dawn’s book that I don’t want to pussyfoot around it… I recently became familiar with Dawn Barker’s work,…

Move away from the computer: The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

Whenever I move into a new house (and there have been many: 23 houses, give or take), for the first week I revel in the surroundings. The space. The views. I sit in various places. I observe what’s outside the windows. I lounge in the backyard. I notice where the sun falls, and lie in it. By the end of the first month, I no longer notice. That space I created has already become cluttered. I look through the window but I don’t see what’s out there. I know what’s out there. I start living inside my head again. In Tony Eprile’s article ‘Open Your Eyes: Seeing like a writer’ (March/April 2013 edition of Poets & Writers Magazine), he talks of the importance of sitting still…

The lure of introversion: QUIET by Susan Cain

I’m having a pyjama day today. I’ve had a couple lately. Every now and then the world gets too busy, I get run-down and I jump into bed (I try not to take my laptop – too often). The kids are at child care so I can luxuriate in nothingness. Sleep. Read. Try not to think too much. Recuperate. When I was a teenager I used to need pyjama days a lot. Each year in high school, I’d take one day, and it would turn into a week. I would lie on the couch and watch morning TV, then the soap operas, then vegetate. I’ve always loved my mum for understanding that I needed to do this. As a kid I put a lot of…

Do you remember the first time? Part 2: readings + The Voice

I’m one of those people who would rather die than get up and say a few words. I think this is in part genetic (my grandmother on my mum’s side and my grandfather on my dad’s side were both content to sit in corners and observe at social situations, and confessed their fears to me of standing up to speak) but also influenced by my experiences in primary school. I don’t remember being self-conscious until about Grade 4. I feel like I can pinpoint the moment it began. When — as my character Layla takes up the narrative in my book — I had a teacher who decided to conduct a class experiment. Mr S told me to go outside and pick up rubbish. A…

Addictive films: Silver Linings Playbook + Shame

I always thought ‘sex addict’ was a term made up by Hollywood’s testosterone-fuelled stars like Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen to explain away lascivious nights out on the town, to excuse raucous behaviour. But Steve McQueen’s intriguing and powerful film, Shame, has made me rethink it in terms of addiction. The film hinges on Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a New York executive, who lives to pick up. There’s hardly a moment in his day when he’s not thinking about sex: he prowls around his co-workers; he watches porn on his computer when he gets home; he masturbates frantically in the office toilets. But there’s nothing appealing about his world. Conversations with women. Friendship. These matter little. All he wants is to get the next hit. A…

Meet the locals: author Jon Bauer

I remember first encountering Jon Bauer in a session, with Fiona McGregor, at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival on writing about mothers. As you know, this is a topic that continues to engage me (on many levels) and I was intrigued because it was unusual to have a male panellist (a refreshing change, actually), and he spoke eloquently about writing female characters. After his debut novel, Rocks in the Belly, was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (2012) and won the Indie Award for Debut Fiction (2011) it became one of the first books I downloaded onto my Kindle. A mistake, I now realise, because I want to share the damn thing with everyone! It’s a stark and brooding novel with a mesmerising and…

Writing Mothers: Susan Johnson

Susan Johnson is an author of seven novels, and also non-fiction, and has recently released her latest, My Hundred Lovers. She blogs regularly on all aspects of writing and the process of launching her book. I remember reading an early work of hers, Flying Lessons, and revelling in its fierce characterisation and descriptions of Queensland. She was always a writer who excited and challenged me, and I kept an eye out for her latest works. Susan describes Flying Lessons here: The book, set in Australia, has two heroines, modern-day Ria Lubrano and her Edwardian grandmother Emma James. Ria Lubrano, who “came into the world with bones plotting mutiny”, suffering from a literal and metaphorical film over her eyes, is vegetating as a jingle-singer, a voice without…

Nothing like a good spanky

  In the opening scenes of David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method we see Keira Knightley (as Sabina Spielrein) play mad. There’s no doubt about it. She’s hysterical. She bends forward at the waist, dry-retching as if she’s swallowed a wild chimpanzee. Her teeth chatter. She swims in a fishpond, cackling loudly, covered in mud, as the hospital’s male attendants prod and entice her. As the calm doctor Carl Jung applies his new method, the ‘talking cure’, she reveals very quickly that her father used to take all her clothes off (the first time when she was four) and beat her. And the revelation that fuels her sexual energies from then on? She used to like it. (Note to self: never strip and humiliate children in…